Recent 1st round selections: How are they doing?

This article looks back at first round draft choices from 2012 through 2014 to see how the players have fared so far. As always, the qualitative discussions are left to others and this article focuses on measurables. In this case, the number of starts and plays from scrimmage for each draft choice were measured. The players are ranked by the number of career scrimmage plays by draft year.

These numbers, of course, do not tell the whole story. Several other factors are relevant and are ignored in this analysis and include:

• The depth chart of the team that selected him
• Injuries and suspensions

- David Wilson’s career has been ended already due to injury and others have had injury problems that have delayed their development
• A player’s position
- Certain positions, like offensive linemen and quarterbacks, typically play the entire game while running backs and defensive linemen tend to be rotated in and out

Following is information for the first round of the 2012-2014 draft years. Information for this analysis was accumulated from the weekly “Game Books” published by the NFL.

History tells us that some of these draftees, at the end of the day, will end up as flops, whether due to injury, off-field issues or lack of ability. Generally, the players at the bottom of each listing above have the lowest chance of being successful.

David Wilson’s injury already puts him in that category for the 2012 class. AJ Jenkins is on the brink of joining him as, despite getting a second life with the Chiefs, he has registered only 17 catches in three seasons. Justin Blackmon has to eliminate his off-the-field issues (he entered a 90-day treatment program in October) if he is to avoid the flop label. Trent Richardson’s career is on a downward arc as he rushed for almost 1000 yards as a rookie but he has gained progressively fewer yards in each successive season.

Jonathan Cooper is the leading candidate to flop out of the 2013 class. He missed the entire 2013 season with an injury and started only two games in 2014. Dion Jordan has also failed to impress so far, while missing games due to suspension. Datone Jones is a third candidate for disappointmen. A handful of other players have missed time due to injury and the jury is still out on their performance.

It is hard to make any definitive predictions about flops from the 2014 season. Troy Polamalu and a host of others spent their rookie seasons on the bench and then became excellent players. Several players, though, have contributed less than others. Marcus Smith barely saw the field as a rookie. Dee Ford and Darqueze Dennard were behind veteran players and faced unfavorable depth charts. Presumably. Others like Jadveon Clowney missed time with injury. And what can be said about Johnny Football? Your guess is as good as mine.

To put the number of scrimmage plays in perspective, the next table shows the top ten players (excluding first round selections) in terms of the number of scrimmage plays from each draft class. Not surprisingly, offensive linemen dominate the list, accounting for half the players on the list.

Follow Tony on Twitter @draftmetrics

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